Two women killed in rock fall above Convict Lake
Two women were found dead Monday on Red Slate Mountain after they were overdue returning from climbing an icy narrow corridor.
Jennifer Shedden, 34, of Mammoth Lakes, and Michelle Xue, 22, of Los Angeles, set out Saturday from Convict Lake trailhead, intending to return on Sunday.
Friends reported the two were overdue and Mono County Search and Rescue deployed a team and the California Highway Patrol sent their helicopter to look for them.
Both groups located the women midway down a steep couloir at 12,400 feet on Monday.
“Based on observations from both teams, their positioning and lack of response they were presumed deceased.”
Because of darkness, high winds and steep terrain recovery efforts were delayed until Tuesday.
A National Guard CH-47 helicopter airlifted a team of searchers to the base of the couloir.
Despite poor weather conditions, three rescuers climbed up the couloir to the women, who were still anchored into the ice by their equipment.
“The climbing team faced active rock fall from the terrain above, discharging rocks and material into the couloir,” according to the Mono County Sheriff’s Office.
After climbing about 1,100 feet on the ice the team confirmed the women were dead.
“It appeared that the women, though very prepared and well-equipped were struck by large rock fall event,” rescuers said.
With the rocks still falling and daylight waning, they determined they couldn’t lower the women and called for a helicopter to respond on Wednesday morning.
The Yosemite Search and Rescue helicopter was able to put two rescuers onto the ice field and extract the women, who were taken to the Mammoth Airport.
“The Mono County Sheriff’s Office holds Jennifer, Michelle and their families and friends in our hearts and thoughts during this difficult time.”
Shedden worked as an associate engineer for the town of Mammoth Lakes for a year, coming from Santa Cruz.
Xue was a Bay Area native and an experienced climber, serving as safety captain of her rock climbing team at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, according to her Linked In Page
She’d worked for RealTerm as an acquisitions analyst for two months and had interned for Alpenglow Expeditions.